(Plate XXXIV.)

Family

Iris.

Colour

Royal purple, variegated with white, yellow and green.

Odour

Scentless.

Range

Southward to the Gulf.

Time of Bloom

May, June.

Mowers: large; solitary; growing at the ends of the flower-stalks and branches. Perianth: of six divisions united below into a tube; the three outer ones spreading, with abundance of yellow; the three inner ones, erect and smaller. Stamens: three; inserted. Pistil: one, with a three-cleft, petallike style that arches over its own stigmas. Leaves: equitant, or folded lengthwise; sword-shaped; mostly at the base of the stem. Stem: stout; leafy; branched above; glaucous.

Juno, as we must all agree, was a goddess of rare taste. For her favourite bird she chose the peacock, and her attendant, or messenger, was Iris, the goddess of the rainbow. In this regal flower it would seem as though we have a touch of the spirit and pride of Juno. When it unfolds itself, with an almost conscious air of its own beauty, we are reminded of the bird that opens and parades his gorgeous tail, whenever he finds himself the centre of admiration. And a bit of Iris's scarf must have been wafted to it for its gown; for the colours blend together while being distinct, as in the rainbow. The ancients thought the iris a sacred flower and associated it with the future state of the blessed.

The graceful beauty is, however, not all fuss and feathers. It has the same wisdom as many unpretentious flowers and knows how to accomplish its mission in the world. By a deep central veining it informs the bee of the road he must travel to reach the land of nectar; and when he has sipped and raises his head from under the anthers, the careless fellow finds his back heavy with gold that he must carry off to the stigma of another flower. Indeed, of all politicians the bees are the most conscientious.